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Wiik Willing to Back Noem Veto of Restriction on Governor’s Authority to Spend Federal Aid

The Legislature passed the Fiscal Year 2023 budget last week on the basis of a compromise with House Republicans that restricts the Governor’s authority to spend federal coronavirus, stimulus, and infrastructure funds. Governor Noem hasn’t yet signed either the budget or the restriction on her check-signing on which that budget agreement depends. She may well be tempted to veto this embarrassing check on her previously boldly asserted power, and now seven Republican legislators are offering to support her if she does:

Senator John Wiik, R-Big Stone City, released a letter Thursday that calls upon Republican House and Senate leaders to reconsider the legislation that the letter describes as “the wrong direction for South Dakota.”

…In the letter, the seven Republican lawmakers call for, at the least, clarifying the bill’s intent, and offers to rescind it or sustain the veto as the other possibility.

Signing the letter were senators David Johnson of Rapid City and Wiik, who are still among the 18-member Joint Committee on Appropriations, and five representatives who previously served there: David Anderson of Hudson, Larry Tidemann of Brookings, Hugh Bartels of Watertown, Lance Koth of Mitchell and Mike Derby of Rapid City.

…“This is a legislative problem created by our haste to ‘get out of town’ on the last day of session,” the letter says in its concluding paragraph. “We have analyzed HB 1340, the G-Bill. There are no ill effects if HB 1281 is disposed of. We need to stand up and acknowledge our error and find a Legislative solution or ask the Governor to veto this bill and then work to sustain her veto” [Bob Mercer, “Seven S.D. Legislators Try to Halt Budget Deal,” KELO-TV, 2022.03.17].

Wiik’s compatriots in this letter, particularly Tidemann, Koth, and Derby, aren’t the biggest bombthrowers in the Legislature. They certainly aren’t the kind of guys you’d expect to blow up the budget. And they are correct that, on paper, vetoing HB 1281’s tying of the Governor’s hands does not strike one penny from any budget line in HB 1340. That veto would only make it easier for the Governor to slushify some of those spending items. The veto wouldn’t open any technical ground on which angry House Republicans could torpedo the budget itself: if the Governor signs HB 1340, it’s law. There’s no mechanism for reconsidering a vote on a bill that’s already cleared both chambers and the Governor’s desk.

House Republicans were able to hold the budget hostage last week to secure passage of HB 1281, but now that HB 1340 is on the Governor’s desk, they can’t drag their hostage back to the House. If Wiik’s signal of support prompts the Governor to veto HB 1281, all House Republicans can do is come to Veto Day crying to their colleagues, “Hey, you guys promised! Uphold the veto!” and hope that Senate President Pro-Tempore Lee Schoenbeck chooses not to withdraw his grudging support for that budget deal rather than take one more opportunity to remind the House who’s boss in the Capitol.


  1. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-19 21:01

    It is an extremely misguided proposed law to handcuff the Governor….not just this Governor, who needs some restraint, but, more important, future governors. Can’t imagine how many of our departments would operate if this bill becomes law. Departments will always be reactive, will not take an initiative to try to meet current issues and will go back to the 50’s when each department’s day to day operations required approval by a ‘State Board” to make day to day decisions. That is a failed model for government.

  2. O 2022-03-20 16:10

    Cory writes: “That veto would only make it easier for the Governor to slushify some of those spending items. The veto wouldn’t open any technical ground on which angry House Republicans could torpedo the budget itself . . .”

    That seems contradictory: even though it would not allow ending spending in the budget, wouldn’t allowing a flood of spending on new projects — especially projects rejected by the legislature for inclusion in the budget — be “blowing up” the budget?

    If Sen. Wiik (et al) blow up the deal that legislators voted for, do those votes get to be rescinded because the deal was? What is it about the new GOP that cannot accept the results of votes?

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